How are marketers carrying out customer experience improvements?
We discussed this topic at our latest roundtable discussions.
Of course, we are quite familiar with what the customer experience leaders are doing to satisfy and delight their customers:
- Amazon provides lightning-fast delivery at a reasonable cost
- LUSH delights customer by being ultra-transparent about how its products are made, and
- First direct (UK bank) has had a customer-focused service culture since its inception
But what about everyone else?
To find out, Econsultancy held a roundtable event, Understanding the Customer Journey: Optimising Engagement Levels for Greater Customer Acquisition & Loyalty in Melbourne, Australia.
Dozens of client-side marketers came to discuss the trends, best practices, and issues they are facing when trying to improve customer experience (CX).
The roundtables were moderated by subject matter experts from Econsultancy and our event sponsor IBM Marketing Cloud. Participants brought their own experiences, questions, and challenges to the table for open discussion.
Below are a few of things marketers do when trying to improve customer experience, and why they do them.
1) Update the company website
One participant said that the way their firm improves customer experience is through regularly updating the company’s website.
Though this sounds like something best left to designers, marketers have an important role to play in the process, attendees reported.
This is because the personal judgements of customers still rule in business, not the latest design trend or website widget.
For a financial services firm, if the website is too slick then the company may lose the empathy and trust of their customers, critical characteristics to maintain.
According to one participant, the ‘secret sauce’ is to have a site which has both the convenience of modern websites, but does not lose the emotional connection.
So, not only should they ask for website updates, marketers should also be part of the website design process to make sure the new version actually improves CX.
2) Conduct research to understand who is not a customer
A lot of CX improvements focus on our customers. After all, we know them reasonably well and have the data to help guide our improvement efforts.
One participant from the gaming industry noted that research on people who are not yet loyal customers may be equally effective for improving overall customer experience.
That is, what do the people who browse our website, but never buy anything, think about their experience?
Data on ‘non-customers’ is more difficult to obtain, but by offering simple data gathering tools, such as a Net Promoter Score button, can help.
The key to improving CX in this area though, according to one attendee, is to gather both quantitative data (e.g. NPS) as well as qualitative. Once you are collecting and managing this data effectively, it is much easier to determine what about your offering gets customers ‘into the buyer zone’.
3) Streamline the buying process
One participant, from an ecommerce firm, said that they improve customer experience by making it easier for the customer to buy.
Though that sounds obvious – every ecommerce site wants it to be easier to buy – the way to do so is not so clear cut.
This is because, as another delegate pointed out, companies have to adopt a customer centric point of view in order to truly make the customer journey easier. Very few, however, do so.
Most companies, another added, simply make it easier for customers to find what they have to sell. To improve CX, the company has to know what the customers want and make that easier to do.
It’s a subtle difference, but very important for starting off a CX improvement programme in the right direction.
4) Get a single view of the customer
A topic which came up repeatedly on the day was about customer loyalty. Specifically, what can marketers improve so that existing customers keep coming back for more?
One interesting suggestion was that marketers should, first off, work tirelessly to achieve a single view of its customers. This means rounding up all the data you have in each channel and trying to link it to your customers so that you can understand them better.
Then, try to dig deeper. See if you can piece together the customer journey and go further back to determine triggers and causation factors.
It sounds complicated, but it needn’t be. Simply knowing how a customer discovered your business or why they were in-market could be key to understanding how to keep them loyal.
Sometimes, one marketer pointed out, you just have to ask.
5) Standardise marketing processes
A delegate from a B2B firm noted that improving customer experience for B2B customers is significantly different from improving B2C CX.
For B2B, it is not practical to deliver a brand message across a number of different channels to see which one works best. Instead, B2B marketers have to use the industry-standard channels which can include trade press, exhibitions, and distributors.
As a B2B marketer is always an arm’s length from the shopper, standardising marketing material is essential to ensure that customers understood the brand before engaging.
This involves designing a content library about what the company offers and ensuring that all materials point back to this library. Doing so helps manage expectations and improves the experience as customers move along their buying journey.
Also, B2B marketers need to understand that B2B customers are often far more technologically savvy than the business world in which they operate.
While their firms may be technology laggards, B2B customers are heavily influenced by the CX delivered by the B2C companies that we all use.
A word of thanks
Econsultancy would like to thank all of the client-side marketers who participated on the day and especially our table moderators for the Customer Experience Management – Trends, Challenges & Best Practices table, Amrita Bhattacharyya, Director, Stellar Evolve.
We’d also like to thank our sponsor for the event, IBM Marketing Cloud, and hope to see you all at future Melbourne Econsultancy events!